The MH17 flight brought down in 2014 was attacked by a BUK missile that came from the Russian Federation and returned there afterwards, according to the first report from a Joint Investigation Team into the disaster.
The Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 (MH17) from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was shot down on July 17th 2014, killing all 298 people aboard, two-thirds of them Dutch.
At a packed international press conference in Nieuwegein today, representatives of the Netherlands, Australia, Malaysia, Ukraine and Belgium announced the results of analysing millions of images, social media posts, videos and telephone conversations.
They presented what they call ‘irrefutable evidence’ of the missile launcher that brought down the plane, where it came from and where it was fired, from farmland near Pervomaiskyi.
The investigators showed telephone conversations between military personnel, forensic analysis, original footage from eye-witnesses and reconstructions of what they are convinced happened.
Although they said they have a list of 100 named suspects, they will continue to work to find out who precisely was responsible for shooting down the Boeing 777-200, which had diverted over war-torn territory to avoid a thunderstorm.
Fred Westerbeke, chief prosecutor at the public prosecution department, told the press: ‘We have as yet no official suspects. But we think it is realistic we will succeed and proceed to prosecution. If in the next three months, we suddenly find some important witnesses it might accelerate. Otherwise, I told the grieving relatives I cannot make any promises.’
Russia has always strongly denied any responsibility. On Monday its ministry of defence released satellite data that it said proved the missile was not fired from the rebel area, pointing the finger at Ukraine – but the JIT said this had not been provided to them and that Russia had only ‘partially’ responded to some requests for information.
‘They say the evidence shows MH17 wasn’t visible and must have come from another direction but this is inconclusive. The absence of evidence is not proof it wasn’t there,’ said Westerbeke. ‘We have no doubt we have the correct position.’
Citizen investigation website Bellingcat identified the names of suspects from open source data and handed them to the JIT last year.
Eliot Higgins, founder, who attended the conference said: ‘Now we have identified the source of this missile launcher, I think this is going to cause real problems for the Russian government. From open sources, we were able to identify all of the members of this unit. We can’t say who was inside the missile when they pushed the button but the JIT is in a much better position to do that.’
Robby Oehlers, who lost his 20-year-old niece Daisy and her boyfriend Bryce Fredriksz, 23, in the crash, told DutchNews.nl: ‘Even it takes 10 years, if we reach an end result then we will be satisfied. It could be that the commanders in the area had contacts with the rebels without the high officers knowing. We first have to have proof that it is a solo decision by a small army in that area or maybe the Russian Federation.
‘I was angry with Poroshenko [Ukrainian president, for not closing the airspace] for quite a while. All nations in the world are making money on commercial flights, opening their airspace. But there are wars all around the world and we or you probably flew over a war zone without even knowing.’
The JIT’s mandate has been extended to 2018 and it has appealed for military insiders to contact it, offering potential immunity from prosecution.
Thank you for donating to DutchNews.nl.
We could not provide the Dutch News service, and keep it free of charge, without the generous support of our readers. Your donations allow us to report on issues you tell us matter, and provide you with a summary of the most important Dutch news each day.Make a donation